Endorsements. The word sends shivers down even the most seasoned author’s back. No one likes feeing like a door-to-door salesman, asking their friends or other authors that they don’t know all that well if they’ll please read your book, write something eloquent you can use with their name for promo, and help hawk your book on social media.
This might sound revolutionary to anyone who has spent time in the publishing industry, but if you’re going to self publish you can take a deep sigh of relief right now. An indie never has to seek out endorsements. Not unless you want them for some personal reason.
It comes down to the way the separate markets work. The trade market is considered a push market meaning they choose books to publish (therefore deciding what books they want readers to buy) and then push them into the market and must do certain things to convince (hence the “push”) readers to purchase those books. They have a small window of shelf time when the book in question must be successful and because of that, clout from other better known authors is sometimes thought to help make a sale.
On the other hand, the indie market is considered a pull market meaning readers search and find the books they want based on what they’ve already decided they like reading. Readers discover indie books through key word searches, recommendations based on what others bought, and by word of mouth. An indie author doesn’t have to sell a certain volume by a set date in order to secure the next contract and therefore endorsements are often a waste of energy for an indie author to pursue. They’re simply not needed because our readers aren’t influenced by a flashy name saying, “This book is good, buy it right now.”
Honestly, in all my years of reading (no matter the market) I’ve never once purchased a book because of an endorsement. I breeze right past all the “sound clips” from industry experts (other authors) that are on the book cover, within the front pages, or on the sale site and go straight to the reader reviews.
Know what does sell a book? Well written reviews and more importantly—word of mouth. If a friend tells me about a book or raves about a book they read on social media—as long as the book is in one of the genres I like—it’s pretty much a done deal that I’ll go purchase it because I trust my friends’ opinions.
Write the best book you can and then spend your energy getting that book into the hands of voracious readers instead of industry experts. For example: the biggest spike in my sales happened after a teen vlogger reviewed my book on her YouTube channel.
And when it comes to other authors, the best policy is to let them decide to read your book on their own. Don’t try to shove it into their hands and don’t hold out hopes that if only they’d review it then you’d become a NYT Bestseller. The greatest experience is when an author you really respect picks up your book on their own and starts telling readers about the book or sharing how much they loved it.
If you follow me on any of my social media outlets you already know that I talk a lot about books that I enjoyed. Not once was I doing that because an author asked me to talk up their book. Not once. See, as an author I want my readers to trust when I recommend books so I read books and decide on my own what I will promote and what I won’t.
Lastly, it’s not wrong to seek endorsements as an indie. If you want them, then by all means, seek some out. Just remember a few etiquette rules as you go forth.
The Rules of Asking
1) Find someone who is selling well in the same genre you are. A five star endorsement from your friend who writes inspirational romance won’t hold much weight for your dystopian crime novel.
2) You should have read their stuff, liked their books, and—in most cases—helped promote their books along the way. I’ve lost count of the number of people who have asked me for an endorsement who I know have never picked up one of my books. Do I need them to love my stuff and praise me? Absolutely not. But if they haven’t read my book and don’t like my writing why exactly do they want my endorsement? It comes off as rude when someone has never cared about your work and yet want you to invest hours/days into reading and talking up their work. Be polite. If it’s someone you’ve never read and/or never shared love about their books, don’t ask them.
3) Don’t use up all your good favor on the first book. You have ten amazing author friends who are all good fits for endorsements. Resist the urge to contact all of them and seek endorsements on book one. Ask about a half to a third of them for the first book—don’t use all your favors at once because you can’t expect all of them to endorse every single one of your books.
Have you ever bought a book based off of an endorsement found on the cover or in an advertisement for the book? What makes you purchase a book by an author you don't know/have never heard of? I'd love to hear your thoughts on this topic.
Do Indie books need endorsements? @AuthorKeller says no. Here's why - #indiepub #publishing #amwriting (Click to Tweet)
The rules new authors need to know before asking for endorsements #amwriting #indiepub #publishing via @AuthorKeller (Click to Tweet)
Jessica Keller holds degrees in both Communications and Biblical Studies. She is multi-published in both Young Adult Fiction and Inspirational Romance and has 100+ magazine and newspaper articles to her name. Her latest Indie release is a Young Adult Fantasy - Saving Yesterday. You can find her at www.JessicaKellerBooks.com, on Twitter @AuthorKeller, or on her Facebook Author Page. She lives in the Midwest with her amazing husband, giggly daughter, and two annoyingly outgoing cats who happen to be named after superheroes.